Lovely to look at and not without merit, but the market was moving on.
If one could distil and bottle the very essence of French middle-class conservatism and respectability, the label on the bottle would undoubtedly read ‘Peugeot’. Over its long and illustrious history, the French automaker’s products were well-engineered, durable, rational and sensible above all else. Peugeot was not a company given to flights of fancy or wilful self-indulgence. Even its coupé models were characteristically understated and practical conveyances. All apart that is, from the car we are examining today.
The Peugeot RCZ was first unveiled in June 2007 as the 308 RCZ Concept alongside Peugeot’s newly minted 308 production models. The RCZ was designed to be an image-builder for the mainstream C-segment hatchback and estate, and the 308 was a car that certainly needed some help as far as image was concerned – for it was an unfortunately flaccid and over-bodied looking thing, aesthetically inferior in every way to its better looking 307 predecessor. The RCZ was shown alongside the 308 at the latter’s formal launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2008. Critical reaction to the 308’s styling was mixed to say the least, but the RCZ received widespread acclaim. Continue reading “A Lovely Frock, but Late to the Party”
Initially the plan was to write about the Peugeot 406 Coupé, pictured below. The plan deviated when news came in that the Daihatsu Sirion+ celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month and as a present, I’ll give it some airtime.
James May is today one of the three huge faces carved out of the Mount Rushmore of motoring journalism, along with Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson. In August 1998 he still wrote for Car magazine, and could be found offering interesting and balanced views. That month he wrote up the Daihatsu Sirion +, (ダイハツ シリオン in Japanese) as it was called officially.
A Suave Swansong. The 406 Coupé embodied values which had seen a Franco-Italian marriage survive and prosper for a generation. Sadly, it wasn’t to last.
At some unspecified point during the 1990’s something quite seismic took hold within Automobiles Peugeot. A profound cultural shift which saw a gradual jettisoning of not only the marque’s highly regarded engineering principles but also its reputation for dignified styling. Their long-standing association with carrozzeria Pininfarina was unravelling. PSA President, Jacques Calvet, believed to have been irked by the attention Patrick le Quément’s Billancourt studios were receiving, pressed Peugeot Style Centre chief, Gérard Welter for more visual excitement; a move which saw Welter poach rising star Murat Günak from Mercedes-Benz in 1994. Continue reading “Lion of Beauty – 1997 Peugeot 406 Coupé”